The extra vehicles are expected to serve an additional 18,000 extra peak-time passengers and a further 6000 extra passengers once infrastructure upgrades are completed on the main line and Hounslow Loop. Deliveries are due to start in 2017 and the trains will enter service in early 2018.

Stagecoach says the new second-generation Desiro City trains are similar to the class 700 vehicles that Siemens is currently building for Thameslink. They will be maintained at South West Trains' Wimbledon depot which recently benefitted from a £6m investment with further improvements planned.

The investment in the new trains is part of a larger programme of enhancements at London Waterloo being delivered by an alliance of South West Trains and infrastructure manager Network Rail. This includes reintroducing services from the remaining four platforms of the former Waterloo International Terminal and extending platforms 1-4 to accommodate 10-car trains. Track, signalling and electrification improvements are also set to be carried out.

The new trains will be used for 10-car services between London Waterloo and Windsor, while additional 10-car services will be introduced using existing rolling stock on services from Staines to Bracknell, Ascot and Reading, and on a number of main line services from Basingstoke to London Waterloo.

South West Trains is currently rolling out 108 additional refurbished coaches following a £65m investment, which combined with the new order, is set to increase its peak capacity by 30% by 2018.

"As well as providing extra space for passengers using our services now, the combination of investment in the infrastructure and these new trains will create space at Waterloo that is the essential first step to allow an increase in capacity for our longer distance, main line services," says Mr Tim Shoveller, chief executive of the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance. "We will also continue to work with industry partners to develop options for the longer term."